Blu (voiced by Eisenberg) is a blue macaw raised in Minnesota alongside a little girl Linda (Mann). Years later, bird-rescuer Tulio (Santoro) wants to take Blu back to Rio de Janeiro so he can mate with the last remaining female of the species, Jewel (Hathaway). But in Brazil, the courtship between Blu and Jewel gets off to a rocky start, not least because Blu never learned how to fly. And when smugglers steal them, they need a variety of locals (including Lopez, Morgan, Foxx and Will.i.am) to help them escape from a menacing cockatoo (Clement).
The fast-paced story is both action-packed and very funny, with never a dull moment as the script combines thrills, comedy and romance. It's not hugely complicated, but the approach is fresh enough to keep us on our toes, and the characters are so engaging that we never want it to reach its predictable conclusion. Most enjoyable is the way the film really captures the spirit of Brazil; even the villains have a disarming charm about them as they obsess about football and go crazy for Carnival.
The animators flood the screen with bright colours and lively characters, including some exhilarating aerial sequences above Rio that really take advantage of the 3D, as do the madcap action scenes. The beach, favela and rainforest are each rendered with attention to detail. But none of this would be nearly as entertaining if the characters weren't so strong. And wonderfully attitude-filled voice work helps keeps us laughing.
Rhymer adds the same raucous inventiveness here as he did in Surf's Up, and whole film also feels tighter and smarter than Saldanha's three Ice Age movies.
It's refreshing to have a movie like this that just aims to entertain us, leaving the moralising and sentiment just out of view (it's there if you need it) and letting the characters have enough spark that we enjoy spending time in their company. And we hope they'll be back for more adventures too.
Run time: 96 mins
In Theaters: Friday 15th April 2011
Box Office USA: $143.6M
Box Office Worldwide: $471M
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Production compaines: Blue Sky Studios, Twentieth Century Fox Animation
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 72%
Fresh: 104 Rotten: 41
IMDB: 7.0 / 10
Director: Carlos Saldanha
Producer: Bruce Anderson, John C. Donkin
Screenwriter: Don Rhymer
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg as Blu (voice), Anne Hathaway as Jewel (voice), Leslie Mann as Linda (voice), Jane Lynch as Alice/Goose (voice), http://Will.i.am as Pedro (voice), Wanda Sykes as Chloe/Goose (voice), George Lopez as Rafael (voice), Jamie Foxx as Nico (voice), Rodrigo Santoro as Tulio (voice), Jemaine Clement as Nigel (voice), Jake T. Austin as Fernando (voice), Tracy Morgan as Luiz (voice), Carlos Ponce as Marcel (voice)